Focus On... Edinburgh
No.1 celebrates the buzz of Scotland’s second-largest city
The city of Edinburgh is always buzzing, whatever time of the year. As Christmas approaches, there is no let up, as a whole programme of events is under way. No.1 invites you to become a tourist in your own country by visiting, and re-visiting, this amazing city and immersing yourself in all it has to offer, from enjoying festive family events and exploring its hidden gems to uncovering its cultural heritage.
CHRISTMAS IN THE CAPITAL
Edinburgh’s Christmas is one of the biggest celebrations in the UK and this year will see the brightest programme of events across the city centre to date. This year the celebrations expand into the West End for the first time, and will stretch from Festival Square to St Andrew Square in the East End. This will be the fourth year the event has been staged by live entertainment organisers, Underbelly, on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council. Underbelly Director Charlie Wood said: “Edinburgh is well-used to big events happening on its doorstep and so embraces it even more. I think that if we were doing this in a city that didn’t have such history, it would be more work and more hassle.” Around 350,000 people are expected at this year’s Street of Light, when George Street will be lit by 60,000 bulbs. Other events include a production in the Festival Square Theatre of the hit musical Five Guys Named Moe and a magic show by Morgan and West. The European Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens features over 100 stalls, providing a wonderful selection of food, drink and handmade gifts. Edinburgh’s Christmas is firmly focused on families and Princes Street Gardens remains its focal point, with Santa’s grotto, the Santa Train, the Christmas Tree Maze, Carousel and Big Wheel proving star attractions. The ice rink in St Andrew Square is another popular draw for all ages.
MORE FESTIVE FUN
Be filled with festive cheer as you enjoy a glass of mulled wine, hot mince pies and sing Christmas songs for Carols at the Cottage, at the Royal Botanic Garden on December 6. Consider a clue-led festive adventure around Newhailes, finishing with a craft activity for all of the family at Christmas Trails and Crafts, at Newhailes, Musselburgh on December 10, 11, 17 and 18. Follow the Star is the theme
of the seventh Christmas Tree Festival at St Andrew’s and St George’s West churches in the centre of Edinburgh (December 10-24) where live music will be provided by local choirs and musicians. Bloodwise Reindeer Run on December 11 is a festive fun run held in Holyrood Park. Fancy dress is strongly encouraged and you receive your very own reindeer antlers to wear on the day. The event raises funds for cancer charity Bloodwise. Then there’s a festive storytelling workshop called Step into Christmas at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile, which includes fun-filled activities for all the family on December 16-17. Don’t miss the festive markets in the city centre. Enjoy delicious food and drink and traditional crafts at the Scottish Market in St Andrew Square, pick up unique gifts and goods at the European Market in the Mound Precinct or choose presents for the wee ones in the Children’s Market, part of Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens. And finally, there’s Magifest Christmas Special at George Square Theatre (December 27-30) showcasing cutting-edge illusions and mindreading to mesmerising sleight-of-hand magic and edge-of-your-seat levitation, this show is not to be missed!
Christmas aside, there is a whole programme of exhibitions and events at Edinburgh’s many museums... At the National Museum of Scotland, 10 galleries contain an A to Z of exhibits, ranging from Alexander Graham Bell to Zandra Rhodes. Many temporary exhibitions staged in the museum are collaborations with other museums. However, the next one, Monkey Business (from December 9) – which takes place in its 150th anniversary year and follows the museum’s major refurbishment – has received no outside help. More than 50 spectacular new taxidermy specimens of monkeys, apes, lemurs, lorises and bush-babies will be revealed in the most comprehensive exhibition on primates ever. The taxidermy was specially commissioned for the exhibition, which is the first to show primates behaving as if they were in the wild. Dynamic poses capture the wide variety of behaviours of some of the world’s most endangered primates.
PORTRAITS OF SCOTTISH GREATS
The National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street is one of the most impressive buildings in Edinburgh. Designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, it opened in 1889 as the world’s first purpose-built portrait gallery. The Portrait Gallery’s collection is an exceptional national resource of over 30,000 fascinating images incorporating a rich variety of media and including many internationally outstanding works of art. The portraits depict the men and women whose lives and achievements helped shape Scotland and the wider world. The Gallery is also home to an outstanding collection of photographs which includes around 6,000 works by the early Scottish pioneers of the medium, Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill, as well as new works by leading-edge contemporary photographers.
CELEBRATE IN THE SIGNET
Described by King George IV as “the finest drawing room in Europe”, the Signet Library in Parliament Square (behind St Giles Cathedral) now serves as a working law library and fashionable eatery. The Colonnades Restaurant is housed in the 1822 building offering some of the best nouvelle cuisine (and Afternoon Teas) in the capital. At Colonnades not only are you able to set foot into this 19th century building, you can also enjoy some of the finest food and drink in Scotland. Celebrate in style!
The Street of Light